sweet valentines and a little indulgence

"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."
 ~Emily Brontë

Since it's Valentines Day I thought I would do a little bit of indulging and share with you two of my favorite skating performances. You might know that I love Figure Skating. Perhaps you're a fan too. If not I warn you ahead of time that this is a Figure Skating tale and I hope you will allow me a little indulgence today.

In my humble opinion the greatest pairs team figure skaters of all time are Ekaterina Gordeeva (Katia) and Sergei Grinkov. They were 4 time World Champions and 2 time Olympic Champions. Paired together as children in Moscow, they went on to win the '88 Olympics in Calgary when Katia was only 16. They fell in love, married, had a daughter and came back to win gold again in the '94 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. They were perfection on ice and their real life love story only added to their exquisite fairytale.

This is one of their most beautiful programs, performed to Vocalise by Rachmaninoff and inspired by Rodin's sculpture The Kiss. Watching them is mesmerizing. They seem to literally float on the ice and their artistry was breathtaking. I never tire of seeing any of their programs.

Most everyone in the world of figure skating knows this pair's heartbreaking story. In November 1995, the year after winning their second Olympic gold medal, Sergei Gringov collapsed on the ice during rehearsal and died of a heart attack at 28. It was said that he died in her arms. Katia was a widow at 24 with a 3 year old daughter to raise on her own.

Now I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news on the radio that Sergei died. I remember what I was doing and how sad I felt. My husband and I were newlyweds and he would tease me about how I would go on and on about Sergei and Katia. I couldn't believe how sad it made me feel. But hubby, a die hard hockey fan, was also sweet enough to take me to watch a skating competition to make me feel better and  he actually even enjoyed the show.

Sergei and Katia were skating with Stars on Ice when he died in Lake Placid just before the show was scheduled to open. The following year Katia returned to SOI as a solo skater and started to try to put her life back together.

In 1998 a young Russian skater named Ilia Kulik won the gold medal in the mens competition in Nagano, Japan. Later that year he also joined Stars on Ice. He was quite a star and women, especially young girls, loved him because he looked a lot like Leonardo de Caprio. He even tried a little bit of acting and had a part in a film called Center Stage, about students attending a New York ballet academy.

Katia and Ilia were paired together for a few numbers and during the 1999-2000 season they performed this program, which to this day is still one of my very favorites. I always watch it around Valentines Day. Maybe it's her red dress but I love the story behind it and I also love the 2 Spanish ballads they used for the program.

This was skated during the early days of their romance, when everyone was still speculating whether they were or were not a couple. It turned out they were and this number reflected the story of how they fell in love. They were married 2 years later and also have a daughter who is already an amazing skater.

Ilia is not a pairs skater so you have to think of the intense amount of training he had to put into doing this routine. Over the years there was so much debate about this program not being 'real' pairs skating and of course it wasn't. It was a beautiful romantic duet featuring two Olympic champions.

Despite the tragedy in her life it seems that Katia Gordeeva was blessed to find the love of her life not once but twice. I know there are Sergei and Katia fans who, to this day, still have a hard time picturing her with anyone but Sergei. She has said before that her life with Sergei was a part of her past that will always stay in her heart, but she now has another life with someone who had enough courage to help her heal and love again.

Katia and Ilia still skate but as single skaters. Ilia is beyond amazing to me and I was lucky enough to see him skate 2 years ago. This year Katia is skating with Stars on Ice again and they're coming near my city this week. I'm hoping my mom and I can go and see it. I would love to see Katia before she retires and my absolute dream would be to see her and Ilia skate this program again one more time. A fan can still dream.

Anyway thank you for letting me indulge a little. If you're a skating fan you probably already know this story, and if you're not and you read through this post (and even watched the videos) maybe you'll see why I find this sport so beautiful.

I wish you and your love the sweetest and loveliest Valentines Day, whether that love is your mate, your kids, your furry babies or all the above. Tell me then dear friends, who do you consider to be the most romantic couple? Someone from literature, a famous Hollywood pair, a prince and princess or someone you might even know.
Or maybe it's simply you and your very own love.

Happy Sweet Valentines Day


Anonymous said...

The skater who touched my soul was Toller Cranston. I saw him skate in person once and I wept as I saw him. I know how you feel.
Happy Valentine's Day to you too.
Hugs and sparkles

Kiki aka Victoria said...

HI Anna..what a beautiful post and tribute to a beautiful couple with such a powerful story! I love figure skating too...and grew up on it..part of being Canadian I suppose..but i adore it..such a treat watching these with m tea this morning..thankyou!yay!! Most romantic couple hmm.. My nonno and nana eloped as young loves..I have also been accused of being super romantic ha ha..
Lovely post! Have a happy V-day!

Healing Woman said...

I love this tribute to your favorite skaters. I am coming back tonight to watch those performances. Your story is told with such sweet emotion. Very, lovely Valentine post.

Linda said...

Anna, Oh my....such an amazing pair. I remember the story and oh how very sad. They still skate in our hearts and minds and with their daughter carring on the family story. I do watch skaters and it does make tears come to my eyes...They are gliding and almost flying. You tell a wondreous tribute....
Happy Valentines Day to you.

Jacqui said...

Thank you for this lovely post - I love ice skating but mainly watch ice dance and Katia and Sergei's story was not known to me. I found it very beautiful and moving and loved the videos you posted especially the second one

Wendy said...

Anna, I remember when all this happened. I cried during a special they did on her losing Sergei.
I am a sucker for tragic love stories. You can see it in her skating with Ilia.
This was beautiful and so heart wrenching. I am fortunate to still have the love of my life and 4 little loves.
Please have a wonderful Valentine's day, and please stop by for my giveaway. I would love to have you. Next year we are going to prepare a Valentine Tea Party. That would be so much fun, and I hope you like my mini version this year.
wishes and whimsy
WEndy from Wonderland

Thespa said...

How beautiful. I used to love to watch figure skating when I was a girl, though it's been a long time since I watched. But I have enjoyed watching these videos. Thanks for sharing such a neat story. Happy Valentine's Day.
Vintiquities Worskhop

Fran. said...

Happy Valentine's Day Anna!! I posted about winning your January giveaway! I used your pictures! Thank you!! I am doing my challenge for this month and it is challenging me!! LOL I can't wait til I finish it!! I remember the day Sergei died and how very sad it was!! Ice skating is such a beautiful art I think. God gives skaters such a beautiful talent for it. Sometimes it's kinda magical. Hope you're having a great day! XO Love, Fran.

Drama queens mum (Kimberly) said...

I like figure skating too. I use to take skating lessons when I was a kid.

joanna said...

I actually saw katia and sergei skate 20 years ago when they (surprisingly) came and skated for our (somewhat) small town's winter carnival. I was in shock when he died their love story is one of the most tragic ever...do you remember watching her first public performance after his death? Heartbreaking. But, I was so happy to hear that she had found love again and that she continued to skate...thanks for the memories...

Faerie Moon Creations said...

Happy late Valentine's Day. I remember Katia and Sergei very well. They were beautiful together on the ice - what an amazing couple they were. Katia was so strong to keep on after Sergei died - and she was most lucky to find another love in Ilia (another amazing skater). Thanks for bringing back these memories - and I hope you had a wonderful day! Theresa

Miel Abeille said...

What a bittersweet story! Thanks for sharing... I enjoy watching figure skating, but wouldn't say I'm a fan (who's in the know.)

Rosemary said...

I love figure skating - I have loved it from the days of Dorothy Hamill, so I'm dating myself. I am so glad Katia found love again, that's wonderful. I didn't know what happened after she lost Sergei so tragically. My favorite pair is going bigtime old school and that would be Torvill and Dean. I remember rooting for them so strongly when they did Bolero in the Olympics. I always thought they would end up together but apparently they are more like brother and sister to each other.

Lovely post!

Justina said...

What a beautiful, touching story Anna! When I was little, I used to really love watch ice skating, so beautiful & graceful... There is something really beauiful that rose out of all that tragedy and it really goes to show that Love lives on.... To answer your question, I think the most romantic couple I know , are probably my parents. They still act like they are young and in love , and have been together almost 30 years. It's funny watching them.
:-) I'm glad you had a Happy Valentine's Day !